Connecticut SDE Says No Opt Out, But Can’t Punish Those Who Do

Connecticut_state_flagA follow-up to the piece I wrote about Connecticut last week.  In that piece Steve Martin with the Connecticut State Department of Education said there is no opt-out provision assessments except for students who are “medically exempt” or who are in an out-of-state facility.

Wendy Lecker who is senior attorney for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity project at the Education Law Center emailed me in order to clarify the law regarding this manner.  She told me, “While SDE tries to push parents not to opt out, their materials make it clear that they cannot punish parents for doing so.”

Here is a column she wrote for the Stamford Advocate that further clarifies – an excerpt…

Now that Common Core testing has come to Connecticut, officials around the state are reporting that parents here are seeking to opt out of state tests. They are preparing for the possible tidal wave of parents who will refuse to subject their children to invalid, overly long and meaningless tests.

State and local officials also know that while Connecticut law provides that students "shall" take state tests, there is no sanction for parents who refuse to have their children take the tests. Rather than honestly inform parents of this fact, the State Department of Education has a detailed plan of action for how to frighten those parents who might want to opt their children out of testing into submission.

If a parent seeks to opt his child out, SDE suggests that administrators inform him that the district has no freedom in the matter. State officials are instructed to tell parents who contact them that there is no opt-out language in the law. If a parent persists, the district is advised to present him with an intimidating legal-looking, but meaningless, "letter of intent" to sign.

Should a parent make it past the bullying gauntlet outlined above, he will find out what SDE knew all along. SDE’s instruction provides that if, after all these steps, a parent still refuses, then "the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as `absent’ (for purposes of testing), which negatively impacts the participation rate for the district."

In other words, there are no negative consequences to a parent or child who opts out of state tests.

Thank you Wendy for the clarification.